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Sunderland v Liverpool: We won't wilt under heat of gruelling run, vows Jurgen Klopp

Premier League: Stadium of Light, Today, 3.00pm

By Carl Markham

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists there can be no excuses as his side head to Sunderland after a quick turnaround in the Premier League.

Less than 44 hours after beating title rivals Manchester City in an attritional game at Anfield, the Reds will be in action again at the Stadium of Light.

City and Liverpool both have 3pm kick-offs today but, while Pep Guardiola's men are at home to Burnley, Liverpool had to make the 165-mile trip to the north east yesterday.

And while many were recovering from New Year celebrations, Klopp was poring over a recording of the Black Cats' weekend defeat at Turf Moor.

"I've celebrated enough in my life. It is no problem," said Klopp.

"We all earn a lot of money, we all know about it and our private life changes a little bit.

"I've said enough about the fixtures and we accepted it long ago. No excuses - that's how everyone wants it. We have to deliver - and we will deliver."

Klopp is likely to have to make at least one change after captain Jordan Henderson was forced off with a heel injury - although not the same issue which has plagued him for a year now - in the win over City.

"It's a little bit of pain in the heel," said Klopp. "If Hendo is limping it is probably a little bit more pain. We have to see. We don't know exactly."

Any other alterations to the line-up will depend on what his conditioning staff tell him.

"Usually after a game you ask a lot of questions and if you get an answer you can rest a player, but I am pretty sure I will not ask a lot of questions like 'How do you feel?'" Klopp said.

"I will wait for some information from the medical department but we will not have a proper session (on Sunday).

"It was very important we won against City. It would be really hard to go to Sunderland if you got nothing so we will go there and play our best."

While he thought it far too soon to speculate on what it might mean for Liverpool's title hopes, Klopp argued that the 1-0 win over City had proved his side's defensive credentials.

The biggest criticism of Liverpool under Klopp has been a weakness at the back. The New Year's Eve win that kept Liverpool six points behind Chelsea was, however, Liverpool's sixth clean sheet in their last nine games.

"There is some criticism of their defending but City play some of the best football in the world, you have to defend against it - we did," said Klopp.

Liverpool can close the gap on Antonio Conte's side to three points should they win at Sunderland and the odds must be in their favour - starting in 1977 Sunderland have changed divisions in every year that ends in seven.

Pool managers like Bob Paisley and Kenny Dalglish - but not Brendan Rodgers - developed a reputation for never speculating about how a season might end. As he summed up the significance of the win over City, Klopp showed himself to be more like the Liverpool managers of old.

"I have had much more difficult situations in my life than being second in a difficult league," he said.

"We are happy about our way of playing but we can have no influence over what the rest are doing until we play them. I have won a league twice and I don't think about the opportunity until really late in the season.

"You saw how ambitious the boys were against Manchester City but talking about it doesn't bring you one point."

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